Soul II Soul were huge in the late eighties and early nineties. The album Club Classic Volume 1 was the soundtrack to many people’s summer, spawning classic tracks like ‘Keep on Moving’ and ‘Back to Life.’
The London collective came to Bury St. Edmunds last night as part of their UK tour. I have to admit, seeing an older band in genteel Bury St. Edmunds didn’t sound like a great night out. I am delighted to be absolutely wrong!
The Arc is a newish purpose built arts centre in the heart of the town. It incorporates an intimate concert venue surrounded by a large atrium and plenty of bar space. We arrived to find Soul 2 Soul weren’t on for an hour which gave us a chance to chill out with friends at the bar. Unlike some of the older music venues, we had no shortage of space to stretch out, despite it being a full and buzzing venue.
According to the main man, Jazzy B, Soul 2 Soul is a collective of musicians sharing the same vibe. With an 11 strong band, they kicked off with the classic ‘Keep on Moving’ getting the crowd immediately in the groove. Swapping lead singers the band cracked through a bunch of their greatest tracks whilst Jazzy B manned the controls at the back of the stage.
As the night wore on, the band relaxed into longer form musical groove showcasing the wide talents of the band. A drummer, bass & lead guitarists fused a wonderful groove with help from two keyboard players (with added Theremin), two backing singers and two electric violinists. (The violins were electric, not the performers.)
The hits were interspersed with longer album tracks like Zion, Universal Love, Missing You and an extended Jazzy’s Groove.
Jazzy B came (back) to life entertaining the crowd with his singing, rapping and plenty of chat. “Who still has vinyl?” the crowd roars, “Who still has cassettes?” less people roar.. “Who knows the meaning of life? .. Maybe you can tell me after the show!”
I’d always thought Jazzy B would be a bit aloof, you know – too cool for school. Instead he came across as a top bloke – loving his position as the head of a collective that is still kicking almost 30 year later. He entertained us royally, bantering with the audience, posing for audience photos and making us all feel very special.
As we dust off (meaning stream on Spotify) their albums, I expectSoul II Soul will once again be part of the sound of our summer. The tour continues across the country and I heartily recommend catching them if you can.
Soul II Sould promised a happy face, a thumpin’ bass, for a lovin’ race. They delivered.